When Minnesota GM Rick Spielman sees John Schneider this weekend in Minneapolis, he will probably give him a big hug and kiss.
After all, Schneider has helped Spielman build his team into the NFC North leader. Schneider has handed Spielman his quarterback, a starting cornerback and a backup running back over the last three years. Oh, and he also relieved Spielman of a massive locker room headache.
It started in 2013, when Schneider gave Minnesota three draft picks to acquire Percy Harvin. The Vikings used the No. 25 pick to draft cornerback Xavier Rhodes and used the seventh-rounder on an offensive lineman who did not make the team.
The other pick was a third-rounder in 2014, which Spielman used to select running back Jerick McKinnon.
Of course, we all know how that deal worked out for Seattle: In a desperate bid to save the morale of his team last year, Schneider tossed Harvin to the Jets for a 2015 sixth-rounder.
The teams made another deal on draft day last year, as Seattle surrendered the No. 32 pick to move down to No. 40. The Vikings were happy to jump up and take QB Teddy Bridgewater. (The Seahawks made another deal down and ended up with Paul Richardson, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood and Kiero Small.)
So, on Sunday, the Seahawks will face Bridgewater, Rhodes, McKinnon and a Minnesota team that is 8-3 and trying to hold off Green Bay in the NFC North.
Bridgewater is playing about the same as he did in his rookie year — not great, not terrible. He is completing 65.2 percent of his passes, with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, as he manages the run-based offense. Only Seattle (325) has thrown fewer passes than Minnesota (326).
Pete Carroll said, “They’re a run team, so they do play-(action) pass quite a bit. And their quarterback moves some. Teddy’s a good runner with the ball when he needs to be. You can see they don’t want to turn the football over, so they want to make sure that they continue to make yards. He moves the ball around a lot and dumps the ball down a lot. They’ve gotten a pretty good explosive number in general, so they still make plays down the field. But I think they want him to manage the game and do a good job of being really disciplined and strict, and he’s doing that very well.”
Kind of like Russell Wilson has been supported by a great running game and defense, Bridgewater has been buoyed by the NFL’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson, and the league’s ninth-ranked defense this season. Rhodes is a starter on Mike Zimmer’s excellent defense, which ranks second in the NFL in points allowed and fourth against the pass.
“We’re going to see a team in the Vikings that has a real similar formula to us,” Carroll said. “They run the ball, they play good defense, they’re focused on their special teams stuff. They don’t turn the ball over much. They take the ball away pretty well. There’s a lot of really cool things that match this thing up. They’re having a terrific season, so here we go with a great matchup going to Minnesota.”
And you can bet Schneider is hoping the guys he enabled Minnesota to draft — Bridgewater and Rhodes — do not do anything too terrific Sunday.